You must obtain a visa to visit Trinidad and Tobago, unless you are a national of a visa-exempt country. Trinidad and Tobago have a reciprocal agreement with the European Union (EU), allowing all citizens of states that are parties of the Schengen Agreement to stay without a visa for a period of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Trinidad and Tobago requires a minimum passport validity of at least six months after your travel departure date, at least two blank pages in your passport (for stamps, visas etc.), and proof of either onward or return travel.
It is possible to apply for visa/stay extensions from the Passport and Immigration Department in Port of Spain (Trinidad) or Scarborough (Tobago). UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for both entry and exit, as well as airside transit. You can check whether you will require any specific vaccinations (such as for Yellow Fever) here.
There are several types of visa available for stays in Trinidad and Tobago, including:
• Business visa
• Investor visa
• Missionary visa
• Student visa
• Tourist, visitor and transit visas
• Work visa
Whether you can travel and/or stay in Trinidad and Tobago on any one of these visas depends on the types of activities you will be conducting during your time there. Read on to find out more.
Business visitors travelling to Trinidad and Tobago are permitted to undertake the following activities:
• Attend business meetings
• Attend conferences, seminars, and trade shows
• Visit company facilities
• Develop business contacts
Some nationals, such as those from the European Union, Canada, and the United States of America, do not require a visa in order to conduct business activities in Trinidad and Tobago on a short-term basis. If you are unsure whether this applies to you or not, you should contact your local embassy or consulate for clarification, prior to making travel arrangements. If you are not eligible for a business visa, you may need to obtain a visitor visa instead, which can be done at your local embassy or consulate prior to travel.
Individuals who match a specified criteria may be eligible for an investment visa. These are usually through Caribbean investment immigration programmes and often involve investments in the real estate sector. Applicants are often required to invest in government approved projects.
The minister responsible for immigration is in charge of issuing minister’s permits and/or visas if applicable. These will be issued to applicants who he deems fit to enter Trinidad and Tobago for the period of time specified in the permit. Approval is also required from the Ministry of Education; this can be obtained from the Director of School Supervision (Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain) for persons attending government institutions.
Regardless of whether you are from a visa-exempt country, you must obtain the appropriate (missionary) permit, otherwise you will be denied entry to the country.
According to the Tobago Higher Education Council website, students from the following countries do not require a visa to enter Trinidad and Tobago:
• Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom
• All CARICOM member states, with the exception of Haiti
• The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
• All British Commonwealth countries, with the exception of Australia, Cameroon, the Republic of Fiji, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda
If you do not come from a visa-exempt country, then you will need to submit an application to your local consulate or embassy as far in advance as possible.
Even if you are visa-exempt, you may still require a study permit. Your acceptance package from the education institute at which you will be studying should contain a detailed checklist of all the immigration procedures and financial documents required.
If you are unsure, you can send an email to this address to seek clarification: email@example.com.
Tourist, visitor and transit visas
Such visas are only applicable/necessary if you do not come from a visa-exempt country. You will need to submit an application to your local embassy or consulate in order to obtain a tourist, visitor or transit visa. These types of visa do not allow you to work.
Regardless of whether the work is paid or unpaid, the following constitutes as ‘work’ under Trinidadian law (if performed for more than 30 days per year):
• Technical work
• Repairs and maintenance
• Project planning or implementation
Nationals from Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) member states, excluding Haiti and the Bahamas, who have a CARICOM skills certificate, do not require a work permit in order to work in Trinidad and Tobago.
The type of work visa you will require depends on factors such as your qualifications, your salary, whether your employer has an entity in Trinidad and Tobago, the type of work you will be conducting, and how long your work will last. Typically, the most common work authorisation for Trinidad and Tobago comes in the form of a long-term work permit.
Visa application process
You will usually need to submit your visa application in person at your nearest embassy or consulate. You will need to bring both originals and photocopies of all standard supporting documents (i.e. your passport, your completed and signed application form, passport-size photos etc.). If you are applying for a visa on behalf of a minor (a child under the age of 18 years old), then you must also bring the child’s birth certificate and proof of identity.
Additionally, you must be able to prove that you are legally residing in the country from which you are making the application.
In Trinidad and Tobago, permits and visas often go hand in hand. For example, you can only apply for a long-stay visa if you have also applied for a residence permit. Permits for Trinidad and Tobago include:
The government website states that “a person entering Trinidad and Tobago to engage in gainful occupation for one period not exceeding thirty days in every twelve consecutive months, need not apply for a work permit.”
Other submissions for single or multiple work permit applicants must be submitted to the office of National Security and processed online. Your employer is usually responsible for applying for the work permit on your behalf; this will be after the employer has proved that there were no suitable candidates who were citizens or permanent residents.
A work permit application should be made at least three months before your intended date of travel.
Regardless of your visa status, you will need a study permit in order to study in Trinidad and Tobago. In order to file this application, you will need to complete and sign the appropriate forms, and you will need to show other documents too, such as your acceptance letter. You will need evidence of sufficient funds, or a local guarantor to accept financial responsibility for you (such as a family member or a family friend). You will need to complete medical examination forms, and you may also need to provide proof of accommodation.
Some foreign nationals may be able to apply for their student permit after arrival, at the Immigration Division at No. 116 Frederick Street, Port of Spain. This should be confirmed prior to travel. It is best to check with your local embassy or consulate whether you would be eligible for this.
A residence permit can be granted to parents or grandparents of a citizen or permanent resident, the spouse of a citizen or permanent resident, and the children of a citizen or permanent resident (if they are classified as dependent children). The sponsor (i.e. the citizen or permanent resident of Trinidad and Tobago) will need to show evidence of the sufficient funds that will allow them to support both themselves and any sponsored family members.
A missionary permit is for a person seeking to enter and remain in Trinidad and Tobago for the purpose of preaching or teaching, in either a religious institution or establishment. This person must have been accepted as a religious worker by a religious institution or establishment that is recognised by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
This permit also includes applicants visiting for the purpose of speaking at a religious gathering, provided they have evidence of an invitation from a religious institution or establishment, which is recognised as such by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago or another recognised body or authority.
Applications for resident status must be made through the Ministry of National Security (MNS).
Depending on the issuing country of the CARICOM skills certificate, CARICOM nationals can legally work and/or reside in Trinidad and Tobago indefinitely. Registration with local authorities is usually required first.
All of the Caribbean investment immigration programmes offer citizenship directly, rather than through temporary or permanent residence. So if you qualify for the investment visa, you may be able to apply for citizenship as well.
You can also apply for resident status if you are the spouse of a citizen or permanent resident, or the parent or grandparent of a citizen or permanent resident, so long as they can support you.
Those who have been in Trinidad and Tobago on a work permit for five or more continuous years are considered eligible for a residency application.